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art by Shot Hot Design

Alpha & Omega: A Co-creative Tale of Collaborative Reality

Joshua lives and writes on the San Francisco Peninsula. He is a fan of coffee, Guinness, and all things monkey.
On the day the world began, there were 100 monkeys in the trees.
The next day there were 500, then 1,000.
Somebody pulled out a typewriter, which hadn't been invented yet, obviously.
But there it was.
One of the monkeys swung down, grabbed a banana on the way down, perched a beaten up felt fedora on his head and started typing away. Another monkey looked over his shoulder and thought "That doesn't look too hard," and he started banging away on another typewriter.
Pretty soon, the whole forest (well, there must have been a forest, right? Otherwise where would the monkeys have been hanging out? Anyway…) the whole forest rang out with the clickety clickety clack of typewriter keys striking home, the DING! of the bell at the end of a line and the zziiiing! of paper being pulled out of the roller. There was also the occasional: "Oh yeah, that's it, that sounds great!" or muttered: "Damn, what happens next?" from the army of newly made typists. Somebody lit a cigar to help them concentrate. Then everybody had to have one. The ladies smoked cigarettes, of course.
The reams of paper piled up, a great haze of tobacco smoke drifted through the trees, and some of the monkeys stopped typing and gathered in little clusters around the water coolers that appeared here and there (hey, do you want to hear the end, or do you want to keep bugging me about what does or doesn't make sense? All right then, shush!)
"Whaddya think, Harv?" one monkey asked another, nervously lighting another cigarette, "Think it'll be any good?"
"Don't know, Sid," said Harv, "We'll have to see." He offered Sid a hit off the flask of Ouzo he was carrying (hey, they say the Greeks invented civilization--maybe Ouzo was here first!)
The clusters got bigger, the number of typists got smaller, and soon it was just a few sets of simian fingers hunting and pecking away, then just pecking, then a last "whoop!", and a final zziiing! as a final sheet of cheap bond paper was pulled in triumph from a qwerty-toothed beast and was placed into the stack.
There was silence.
A monkey nobody had seen yet, wearing a vest and a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, swung down, picked up the pile of paper, bent the sheets like an 81/2 x 11 inch deck of cards between barely opposable thumbs, and thwackthwackthwack shuffled them together. He carefully tapped the pages, squared the edges, tapped them again, and stepped up to the microphone.
(I don't know where the microphone came from, but it stands to reason, right? I mean, if you want 1,000 monkeys to hear you, you have to have some sort of PA system, so you MUST have a microphone, all right? Sheesh!)
The monkey cleared his throat. The silence got quieter. The other monkeys looked at each other, nervous now, hopeful it would all sound okay. Their thoughts flickered across their faces, "Ok, I mean, gosh, now that it's going to be read, you know, out loud, to a real audience, maybe it's too silly, this whole collaborative thing might not have been such a good idea. Maybe we should come back tomorrow, do another edit, maybe write a play instead…."
Once again, the monkey at the microphone cleared his throat. He lifted the top page, adjusted his glasses, and read,
"In the beginning were the heaven and earth. And it was good…."
The End
This story was first published on Monday, August 22nd, 2011


This story was a lot of fun to write. If monkeys can write Shakespeare, why not all of Creation? I just had to convince my inner editor that he, too, had been written into existence. By a monkey.

- Joshua Ramey-Renk

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